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Mark Tweedie

I’d love to see a national wellness service working hand in glove with NHS primary care


Brimhams Active has been a short-lived but transformational organisation – tell us about its work
I was fortunate to take a new role at Brimhams Active on behalf of Harrogate Borough Council in 2020, to help set up their new local authority-owned trading company, before stepping in as MD to run the company from its launch.

The council wanted to create a commercially-effective service that also delivered remarkable social value through improving the health and wellbeing of its communities.

It was the dream role because of the seamless vision set by the council and the buy-in to a transformational journey from the staff and local partners.

The council created the conditions for success by injecting nearly £50 million to renew facilities on an invest-to-save basis and by setting up an arms-length company in the form of Brimhams Active that could provide the agility and accountability necessary to accelerate change and succeed commercially in a very competitive trading environment.

We embarked on developing and delivering a business growth strategy that had customer retention at its heart, achieved by offering bespoke support to people to meet their health and wellbeing needs, wherever they were on their movement and health journey. We called this our Five Ways to Wellness approach.

What did you learn during your time with Brimhams Active?
That we can be ambitious in extending conventional leisure services more broadly and deeply into the wider domains of health and wellbeing, thereby being a fundamental service when it comes to reducing demand in the primary and social care systems.

Leisure professionals have a strong will to improve lives and the sector’s workforce has the potential to become very highly skilled and work alongside allied health professionals.

With capital investment to upgrade facilities, revenue to develop the workforce and the creation of a high-quality holistic wellness service, revenues and impact can be maximised to produce a sustainable service that can ultimately create significant savings in the wider primary and social care systems.

You’re taking up a new role at Miova. Tell us all about it
I’ve joined the team at Miova, a values-based, progressive consultancy company, founded in 2022, that’s a trailblazer in the design and delivery of systems-based leadership methodology and professional development.

The Miova team works with councils and partner organisations in the UK to reimagine what physical activity strategy, programmes and initiatives could look like in order to be more impactful. They’ve ventured into supporting councils to support what’s now being commonly termed the pivot to active wellbeing.

Several of the team are also trained coaches providing personal development support to leaders via strengths-based coaching.

What lies behind the move?
My role at Brimhams Active had no future, owing to the newly-formed North Yorkshire Council deciding to transfer all its leisure services in-house and close down the organisation.

I’ve got a fairly broad range of experience working in a variety of roles over my 32-year career and this decision provided me with the opportunity to make a positive move and scratch my itch for consultancy work. This will afford me an opportunity to help organisations and leaders be their best selves in what I believe is a very challenging environment, but one that’s full of progressive opportunities.

I’ve known Ken Masser, founder of Miova, since he started as CEO of Rossendale Leisure Trust, and I also know other Miova directors, Cate Atwater and Andy King. They’re wonderful people, incredibly capable and values-driven, so the opportunity to work alongside them and others at this stage in my career is very compelling.

What will your work entail and what will your priorities be?
My skills and experience align to workshop delivery, which I’m starting in Q3 this year as part of the Miova systems-based leadership programme. I’m also a qualified and practicing executive coach, so I’d like to support Miova and its clients in this regard. I’ve got experience of strategy production and leading strategy into action, so I think I can assist with this, specifically around the pivot to active wellbeing.

You’ve said collaboration is key to avoiding agencies competing for the same resources
While competition is seen as beneficial in a free market economy when it comes to driving innovation and efficiency, it doesn’t always work that way in the public sector, where services arguably need to be focussed on addressing inequalities, thereby supporting those communities and people most in need.

Social change expert, Sir Michael Marmot, talks about this as being ‘Proportionate Universalism’ – the resourcing and delivering of universal services at a scale and intensity proportionate to the degree of need.

Poor health through avoidable lifestyle-related disease and health inequalities is worsening and contemporary thinking is that we need a ‘whole systems approach’ to turn the dial in the right direction.

We’ve had decades of competitive tendering in public leisure and fixed-term competitive grant funding and arguably this has not worked when it comes to reducing inactivity and improving health outcomes.

If we want a whole systems approach that’s geared for deep and meaningful values-based collaboration, I would argue we need a funding approach that promotes collaboration, avoids duplication and drives the scaling of what works.

I suggest the solution also needs to include common – and better – accountability involving benchmarking, in relation not only to outputs, but also to the outcomes achieved.

What’s the key to doing more with less?
Adopting a whole system approach to collaboration, whereby shared objectives are agreed by agencies working nationally and resources are pooled and targeted with precision and accountability to achieve agreed objectives. Added to this, the recognition that investing in one part of the system will achieve savings in another, ie, the prevention versus treatment cost-saving argument.

Do those who need to do so, understand the principle of a systems-based approach?
The term systems-based approach can seem complex. But with some research or even better, taking part in a systems-based leadership courses, it’s reasonably straightforward to understandable.

It starts with seeking a deep understanding of the barriers people face to adopting healthier lifestyles and moving more, before moving on to learn how organisations and groups can optimise collaboration to better meet needs – considering all barriers.

Leaders must achieve deep knowledge of the psychological dynamics of leadership and also appreciate the importance of understanding the core values of both self and others in order to collaborate effectively.

How can we measure success?
There’s a social value calculator called the Wellby, which measures the wellbeing experienced by a person over the period of one year (www.HCMmag.com/wellby) to create a score and I see this becoming a key metric in determining the long-term success of place-based collaborations that create the conditions for a healthier society.

Where do you hope we’ll be as a sector in 20 years’ time?
I’d love to see a national wellness service working hand in glove with NHS primary care services, whereby every community has a welcoming front door that people can walk through without fear of judgement to receive the support they require to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Given the number of leisure assets across the UK and the scale of the workforce, it’s reasonable to suggest that with a national strategy and plan, public leisure could become this partner to the NHS.

What are your personal goals?
I’m driven by a purpose to bring the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle to more people. So by working across a wider geographic area with a range of agencies and people, I want to share my learning and ideas and also work with enthusiastic, capable people to effect the change required, so public sector resources can be deployed to achieve more to improve lives.

The United Nations says access to leisure is a basic human right. Do you agree?
For good health and wellbeing, people need a balance in life between work, recovery and activities which provide enrichment, including connecting with family and friends, leisure and culture and lifelong learning.

In this regard I agree with the UN, but I’d go further and suggest that to justify public spending on leisure facilities and services, a better approach is required to ensure the quality of provision is consistent and opportunities are optimised to enable people to achieve measurable improvements to health and wellbeing. For me, this is the essence of the pivot to active wellbeing.

Tweedie is driving change with the team at Miova / photo: Mark tweedie

"Every community needs a welcoming front door people can walk through without fear of judgement to receive the support they require to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle"

The workforce has the potential to become highly skilled Credit: photo: shutterstock/ Ground Picture
The aim is for every community to have access to a national wellness service Credit: photo: shutterstock/Irina Kononova
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2024 issue 5

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Leisure Management - Mark Tweedie

HCM People

Mark Tweedie


I’d love to see a national wellness service working hand in glove with NHS primary care

Industry professionals will deliver health interventions photo: shutterstock/PeopleImages.com Yuri A
The workforce has the potential to become highly skilled photo: shutterstock/ Ground Picture
The aim is for every community to have access to a national wellness service photo: shutterstock/Irina Kononova

Brimhams Active has been a short-lived but transformational organisation – tell us about its work
I was fortunate to take a new role at Brimhams Active on behalf of Harrogate Borough Council in 2020, to help set up their new local authority-owned trading company, before stepping in as MD to run the company from its launch.

The council wanted to create a commercially-effective service that also delivered remarkable social value through improving the health and wellbeing of its communities.

It was the dream role because of the seamless vision set by the council and the buy-in to a transformational journey from the staff and local partners.

The council created the conditions for success by injecting nearly £50 million to renew facilities on an invest-to-save basis and by setting up an arms-length company in the form of Brimhams Active that could provide the agility and accountability necessary to accelerate change and succeed commercially in a very competitive trading environment.

We embarked on developing and delivering a business growth strategy that had customer retention at its heart, achieved by offering bespoke support to people to meet their health and wellbeing needs, wherever they were on their movement and health journey. We called this our Five Ways to Wellness approach.

What did you learn during your time with Brimhams Active?
That we can be ambitious in extending conventional leisure services more broadly and deeply into the wider domains of health and wellbeing, thereby being a fundamental service when it comes to reducing demand in the primary and social care systems.

Leisure professionals have a strong will to improve lives and the sector’s workforce has the potential to become very highly skilled and work alongside allied health professionals.

With capital investment to upgrade facilities, revenue to develop the workforce and the creation of a high-quality holistic wellness service, revenues and impact can be maximised to produce a sustainable service that can ultimately create significant savings in the wider primary and social care systems.

You’re taking up a new role at Miova. Tell us all about it
I’ve joined the team at Miova, a values-based, progressive consultancy company, founded in 2022, that’s a trailblazer in the design and delivery of systems-based leadership methodology and professional development.

The Miova team works with councils and partner organisations in the UK to reimagine what physical activity strategy, programmes and initiatives could look like in order to be more impactful. They’ve ventured into supporting councils to support what’s now being commonly termed the pivot to active wellbeing.

Several of the team are also trained coaches providing personal development support to leaders via strengths-based coaching.

What lies behind the move?
My role at Brimhams Active had no future, owing to the newly-formed North Yorkshire Council deciding to transfer all its leisure services in-house and close down the organisation.

I’ve got a fairly broad range of experience working in a variety of roles over my 32-year career and this decision provided me with the opportunity to make a positive move and scratch my itch for consultancy work. This will afford me an opportunity to help organisations and leaders be their best selves in what I believe is a very challenging environment, but one that’s full of progressive opportunities.

I’ve known Ken Masser, founder of Miova, since he started as CEO of Rossendale Leisure Trust, and I also know other Miova directors, Cate Atwater and Andy King. They’re wonderful people, incredibly capable and values-driven, so the opportunity to work alongside them and others at this stage in my career is very compelling.

What will your work entail and what will your priorities be?
My skills and experience align to workshop delivery, which I’m starting in Q3 this year as part of the Miova systems-based leadership programme. I’m also a qualified and practicing executive coach, so I’d like to support Miova and its clients in this regard. I’ve got experience of strategy production and leading strategy into action, so I think I can assist with this, specifically around the pivot to active wellbeing.

You’ve said collaboration is key to avoiding agencies competing for the same resources
While competition is seen as beneficial in a free market economy when it comes to driving innovation and efficiency, it doesn’t always work that way in the public sector, where services arguably need to be focussed on addressing inequalities, thereby supporting those communities and people most in need.

Social change expert, Sir Michael Marmot, talks about this as being ‘Proportionate Universalism’ – the resourcing and delivering of universal services at a scale and intensity proportionate to the degree of need.

Poor health through avoidable lifestyle-related disease and health inequalities is worsening and contemporary thinking is that we need a ‘whole systems approach’ to turn the dial in the right direction.

We’ve had decades of competitive tendering in public leisure and fixed-term competitive grant funding and arguably this has not worked when it comes to reducing inactivity and improving health outcomes.

If we want a whole systems approach that’s geared for deep and meaningful values-based collaboration, I would argue we need a funding approach that promotes collaboration, avoids duplication and drives the scaling of what works.

I suggest the solution also needs to include common – and better – accountability involving benchmarking, in relation not only to outputs, but also to the outcomes achieved.

What’s the key to doing more with less?
Adopting a whole system approach to collaboration, whereby shared objectives are agreed by agencies working nationally and resources are pooled and targeted with precision and accountability to achieve agreed objectives. Added to this, the recognition that investing in one part of the system will achieve savings in another, ie, the prevention versus treatment cost-saving argument.

Do those who need to do so, understand the principle of a systems-based approach?
The term systems-based approach can seem complex. But with some research or even better, taking part in a systems-based leadership courses, it’s reasonably straightforward to understandable.

It starts with seeking a deep understanding of the barriers people face to adopting healthier lifestyles and moving more, before moving on to learn how organisations and groups can optimise collaboration to better meet needs – considering all barriers.

Leaders must achieve deep knowledge of the psychological dynamics of leadership and also appreciate the importance of understanding the core values of both self and others in order to collaborate effectively.

How can we measure success?
There’s a social value calculator called the Wellby, which measures the wellbeing experienced by a person over the period of one year (www.HCMmag.com/wellby) to create a score and I see this becoming a key metric in determining the long-term success of place-based collaborations that create the conditions for a healthier society.

Where do you hope we’ll be as a sector in 20 years’ time?
I’d love to see a national wellness service working hand in glove with NHS primary care services, whereby every community has a welcoming front door that people can walk through without fear of judgement to receive the support they require to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Given the number of leisure assets across the UK and the scale of the workforce, it’s reasonable to suggest that with a national strategy and plan, public leisure could become this partner to the NHS.

What are your personal goals?
I’m driven by a purpose to bring the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle to more people. So by working across a wider geographic area with a range of agencies and people, I want to share my learning and ideas and also work with enthusiastic, capable people to effect the change required, so public sector resources can be deployed to achieve more to improve lives.

The United Nations says access to leisure is a basic human right. Do you agree?
For good health and wellbeing, people need a balance in life between work, recovery and activities which provide enrichment, including connecting with family and friends, leisure and culture and lifelong learning.

In this regard I agree with the UN, but I’d go further and suggest that to justify public spending on leisure facilities and services, a better approach is required to ensure the quality of provision is consistent and opportunities are optimised to enable people to achieve measurable improvements to health and wellbeing. For me, this is the essence of the pivot to active wellbeing.

Tweedie is driving change with the team at Miova / photo: Mark tweedie

"Every community needs a welcoming front door people can walk through without fear of judgement to receive the support they require to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle"


Originally published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 5

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